Ita lives the rake life. Photo: Teije Spratt
Italo Valle is living his version of “the dream.” He grew up skateboarding in Lima, Peru, moved to the United States at 17, and eventually found his way to the mountains of Clear Creek County, Colorado. For winter 2017, the 28-year-old has chosen to make his snowboard home Loveland Ski Area, just as he has for the past 8 seasons. There, he earns a living building, raking and designing features as part of the park crew, and seeks out the most pristine pow on his days off. At the chance of regretting my own decision to move away from Colorado this season, I recently got a chance to catch up with Ita from my new/old home in Michigan. Read on to find out more about how he’s turned going snowboarding into his every day reality.
FOLLOW ITA ON INSTA @italocvalle
PB: At the risk of sounding like a kid in the park… Are you sponsored? Who do you ride for?
I don’t ride for anybody, but I am supported by Sims Snowboards, La Familia, Vonzipper Rockies and BAFwax. It’s nice to have friends that support what you do. I’m lucky for that.
PB: Definitely! What are the expectations that come with that? Are you required to make ‘so-many’ social media posts per month or something?
No, I’m not required to do anything. I like to film for fun and to see my mistakes and learn from them. Sometimes they like what I have done and they will post it. I feel like I’m paying it back that way also, [but there are] no expectations. They know I spend over 200 days on the mountain a season, and I think that’s good publicity for them.
Last spring on Loveland Pass. Photo Levi Runsick
PB: Gotcha. You were a skater long before you were a snowboarder right?
Yes, I started skateboarding back in the late 90s. My grandpa bought me my first skateboard for Christmas and after that it was on. I used to live up on the hills in this really ghetto part of the city and would ride my skateboard down the hill bombing it kinda San Francisco style, but way sketchier. lol
PB: This was in Peru?
Yeah. Lima, the capital of Peru. Twenty minutes away from the beach.
PB: Nice. How long did you live there? Did you grow up surfing as well?
I lived [in Lima] till I was 17. Never learned how to surf. Wet suits and boards were way too expensive to even think about buying one. I was really into skateboarding and that’s all I wanted to do!
FSBS, or Frontside-backside as no one actually calls it. Photo: Dustin Schaefer
PB: Right on. And you moved to the States at 17? Didn’t you live in LA for a bit?
Yeah, I first moved to New York, then D.C. and then to Los Angeles. I eventually ended up in Colorado and fell in love with this place .
PB: What were you doing in those other places? Did you come to Loveland on a J-1 Visa, or were you working on citizenship at that point?
I had family in NY and D.C. and I met these kids in D.C. who were all from different places in South America. We had this little skate team called Sudcentral, and we would skate pretty much everyday. My dad lives in D.C. and he brought me to the States before I was 18. My dad is a citizen so he brought me as a resident. I’m still a resident now…but working on becoming an American citizen.
It’s LEGAL baby. Photo: Jess Johnson
PB: I remember there was some shit that went down a few years back where you almost got deported. What happened with that?
I had a warrant for weed possession 8 years ago, back in DC. I moved to Colorado so I never took care of it, (laughs) so when I came back from Peru it was on my background check. As a US resident, I can’t really get in any kind of trouble with the law because we don’t have as many rights here as American citizens do.
PB: Right, right. So did they turn you back to Peru for a bit? How did you get back in the States?
No, I spent 4 days in immigration till they finally figured it out that I’m not a criminal and they can’t kick me out of the States for smoking weed… (laughs)
Team work with Zak Gosney. Photo: Thom Paxton
PB: I know you’ve been at Loveland for a while. Did you start out on the park crew or do another job first?
I was a lifty for 3 years; then I started working as park crew. I’ve been at Loveland for 8 years now.
PB: Nice. Loveland is kind of an off-the-beaten-path spot in some ways. What do you think makes it special?
The mountains, the Continental Divide, the people, my friends. The snow is probably one of the best in Colorado. The long season, the sunsets and sunrises. There is some good big mountain riding. Those cornices up on Wild Child are incredible! You know all this; you used to live here. Don’t tell anyone. lol
PB: Hahaha…don’t worry, only cool people read Yobeat. Your secret is safe. Loveland’s park doesn’t have any jumps, or at least it didn’t when I last was there. Why is that? Are you guys still doing that interesting skate-influenced set up?
It it has to do with lawyers, lawsuits and blab blah blah… all the BS that comes with it.
PB: So still no jumps? Any banks and waves like a few years ago?
Yes, we’re still keeping it creative, trying to make the best we can with what we have. The transitions are always fun. Lots of options for surfy style.
The early season set ups a Love park, through the lens of ITA.
PB: Never Summer sales-guy “Gags” has described the terrain at Loveland as if “someone designed a skatepark high on LSD”….would you agree?
Oh yeah, I could see that. The whole mountain is a playground. Loveland has so much potential, and the wind makes wonderful things. The mountain changes everyday and it’s really awesome to be there to see and be part of it.
PB: What about Loveland’s natural terrain. What’s a pow day like there?
Oh a loveland powder day….It sucks!! Haha, jk. When I have to work on a powder day it’s pretty much just shoveling all day, but to get to work you have to ride a few lifts up to get to the park so we definitely get first tracks early in the morning. I can’t complain about that, but powder days on my days off normally I like to hike to Porcupine Saddle, Wild Child, 1310, and Mine Dumps sometimes. Try to stay away from people as much as I can.
The rumors are true… Colorado does get snow. Photo Jess Johnson
PB: What boards are you riding right now? Which is your favorite?
I’m riding a 155X Dealers Choice, and was lucky enough to get my hands on one with the Zombie Graphic. They only made so many of them. I’m also riding a 153 Juice. I have no favorites; I like them both. The other day I got to ride the Tom Sims Pro Model…that thing was hungry!!! It can destroy anything on the way.
PB: Who are some of your biggest influences in snowboarding?
Tom, Noah, Kidwell, Palmer, Bode, Hellgasons, Gooner, MFM and Terje.
PB: What do you think snowboarding could to do to get more people riding?
I think most people in snowboarding are too self centered. Instead of making fun of people and calling them names, lift them up and help them out. We all started from nothing.
PB: Hell yeah man. I think you hit the nail on the head and I think we’re slowly starting to see that change a bit for sure. That said, any final thoughts or thank you’s before we wrap this up?
Thanks to my lady, my family and everybody that believed and believes in me and makes this journey possible.
PB: Thanks for taking the time, Ita. Say hello to Loveland for me.
Will shred some for you. Come visit sometime!
FOLLOW ITA ON INSTA @italocvalle